Like health care, dental care matters, too. While about 14 percent of Californians lack health insurance, 39 percent lack dental coverage, according to a 2009 brief from the California HealthCare Foundation.
Even if you have dental insurance, it often has coverage limits and varying levels of out-of-pocket spending requirements that differ from health insurance, as a recent Los Angeles Times report noted:
First, it’s specifically designed to encourage preventive treatment. That’s why most dental plans pay 100 percent for preventive services, such as cleanings, X-rays and checkups. Basic restorative services such as fillings and periodontal cleanings are generally covered at 80 percent, and you’ll commonly get just 50 percent reimbursement for procedures such as implants and crowns.
In addition, they commonly come with low annual maximums that place a cap on what the plan pays toward care — the typical range is $1,000 to $1,500.
Even with coverage, the high cost of dental procedures prevents many people from seeking care. In a recent study of Los Angeles residents conducted by Empirica Research, 51 percent with dental insurance say they’ve delayed care because of cost. That number jumps to 68 percent among those without coverage.
Now, a new website, Brighter.com, has launched a free (to consumers) service to help connect people with dentists — at a discount. “The mission was to provide quality, affordable care to everyone,” said Jake Winebaum, Brighter’s CEO. “Brighter is the first marketplace where dentists are competing for patients based on quality, price and convenience.” Continue reading